Plea to save village post office

Postmistress Pauline Hartley who is selling Longshaw Post Office on Billinge
Postmistress Pauline Hartley who is selling Longshaw Post Office on Billinge

The owner of a village post office who is having to sell up is urging a buyer to come forward and save the business for the community.

Pauline Hartley, who has run Longshaw Post Office in Billinge with her husband Mike for a decade, became concerned after several people who came to view the property said they were interested in turning it back into a

house.

Pauline, who also runs a newsagents and fishing shop at the Up Holland Road premises along with Mike, say the loss of a post office would be a huge blow to the tight-knit community.

She says the nature of the work is ideal for families and the rest of the building can be changed into almost any sort of business.

Pauline, 52, said: “We’ve had more interest from people wanting to turn it back into a house but I would like it to be sold as a post office for the village.

“People were very sad when they saw the ‘for sale’ sign.

“There’s only us, the pub and another post office further down left in Billinge and a lot of people don’t want to go into Orrell, they like going where they know.

“An entrepreneur could run a cafe with a post office, it could be a solicitors or accountants and even hairdressers have had post offices.

“It’s just about keeping a small area for it.

“You really become part of the community.

“If someone doesn’t come in at their usual time we speak to the neighbours and they check if they are alright.

“That’s the sort of place it is, we all help each other. It’s a great lifestyle.

“We’ve brought up our daughter while we’ve been here and we’ve spent far more time with her than we would have done in a nine-to-five job.

“This part of Billinge is a lovely area too, it looks out over open fields.

“I’m looking into the garden now and there’s a pheasant there.”

The St Helens natives started running Longshaw Post Office 10 years ago with Mike, 42, switching careers from joinery and Pauline leaving behind her previous work in a high street bank and accountancy.

The devoted Wigan Warriors fans are hoping to remain in the Billinge area as they have got to know many of the local residents and feel very much at home.

The Post Office is also supporting Pauline’s appeal for the counter to remain open, saying it is very keen to ensure the service for the village is not lost.

A spokesman said: “The postmaster at Longshaw Post Office has requested that we look to find a replacement operator.

“Customers should be assured that the Post Office is committed to maintaining a Post Office service in the area and will work hard to ensure this.

“Consequently, we are currently assessing the interest locally in running the post office in this area.

“This could result in a relocation of the branch, and any such relocation would be subject to a public consultation.”